ATLANTIC CITY -- Temple’s quarterfinal exit from the Atlantic Ten Tournament quarterfinal wasn’t surprising.
The 21st-ranked and tourney's top-seeded Owls (24-7) have looked vulnerable since becoming nationally ranked three weeks ago.
Temple needed overtime to beat La Salle. Then the Owls suffered a double-digit setback at St. Joseph’s before escaping with an overtime victory of UMass in their final home game. And in the regular-season finale, it took Temple longer than expected to put away Fordham.
So Friday’s 77-71 setback to the eighth-seeded Minutemen in Temple's opening tourney game wasn’t a shocker.
“We are just trying to refocus,” Temple guard Khalif Wyatt said Friday of preparing for the upcoming NCAA tournament. “It’s going to be tough the next two days. I won’t watch SportsCenter for the next two days.
“We will see where we are at [in the NCAA tournament] and just refocus. We still got a chance to do something special.”
But the Owls will have to do a better job of handling the ball if they expect to win more than one NCAA tourney game. Temple committed 22 turnovers in Friday’s setback.
“I’m not sure how many days we will have to prepare if we get there,” Temple guard Moore said. “But we have to have great preparation, and you know, put this behind us and try to move forward.”
Owls coach Fran Dunphy doesn’t think that will be a problem.
He points to his team’s ability to battle back from being outscored 15-0 at the start of the second half. Down by 10 points after the UMass run, the Owls went on to regain the lead before eventually losing.
The Owls can “use that as an example of we get down and don’t stay down," Dunphy. "Use that as an opportunity to play better basketball."
Temple will learn its NCAA tournament fate Sunday evening. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had the Owls listed as a No. 5 seed before Friday’s loss.